Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

Individually, most Tea Partiers probably are nice people, trying to do what’s right, motivated by good intentions that extend from their faith in God and in their understanding of what this nation stands for. And individualism is exactly what the rhetoric of [Glenn Beck’s August 28 Tea Party] rally was all about; from the website: “throughout history America has seen many great leaders and noteworthy citizens change her course. It is through their personal virtues and by their example that we are able to live as a free people. Our freedom is possible only if we remain virtuous.” Mirroring their Christology, salvation for themselves and for the country is an individual act.

The convenience of individualism is that others cannot be held accountable for personal failures, nor can an individual be held responsible for the actions of another. The problem with individualism is that it fails to connect the dots between a movement or ideology and how one person might interpret that ideology, thereby taking a course of action perhaps incongruous with the party’s original intent.

Individualism is beneficial for leaders to peg success or failure of a movement on each person’s virtue rather than the power of the collective to effect change. Individualism is focused on personal attainment, personal happiness, and personal livelihood, and fails to see how each relies on a system that empowers, privileges, or dispossess either the individual or others in the process. As I discovered at the rally, to shift the conversation from “I” to “we” in speaking of a collective liberation was quickly flagged as anti-American and dismissed.

Since when did “we the people” become synonymous with Socialism? How can we convince people that “loving their neighbor” means more than just praying for them, that it means supporting a system that raises each of us up through access to education, health care, jobs, and a livable life? How can we encourage people to stop thinking of themselves as living in subdivisions and start living in neighborhoods? How can we shift from the Jesus of the comfortable to the “sell all your possessions” Jesus?

– Alex McNeill
“Me” the People: A Day with the Tea Party
Religion Dispatches
August 30, 2010

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Bishop Spong on the Tea Party Movement

Recommended Off-site Links:
Glenn Beck's Redemption Song – Robert Jensen (, August 30, 2010).
Glenn Beck Rally Sparks Debate Over Crowd Size – Michael Calderone (
Yahoo! News, August 30, 2010).
White Fright – Christopher Hitches (, August 30, 2010).
Neo-Supremacy: Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin 's Tea-Scalding of MLK – Pierre Tristam (, August 29, 2010).
The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party – Frank Rich (New York Times, August 28, 2010).


tomschulzte said...

May I ask, what makes this particular quote, 'Quote of the Day'? Is it because it critizes the tea party, or that it critizes individualism? (Or both, perhaps?)

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Tom,

I chose this particular quote as it addresses, in an informed and insightful way, a topical issue that should not be above critique.